Week 9: Visualisations

Here’s a question for you, which would you rather look at?

This picture or this table about Twitter?

The answer probably depends on why you’re looking at this image in the first place, but the image is easier to digest and puts things in perspective compared to the table of statistics. That is, this visualisation of data has helped to point things out in a way that is easier to understand than hard data alone.

Visualisation is about presenting data in a visual form in order to bring a certain aspect to our attention. It’s existed for quite a while, going back to 1854, and has evolved to bring us new things such as the Google Glass, but more on that later.

It’s existed for a long, long time in games through a heads up display (HUD) which tells the player information about their stats. This could be their health, mana, ammunition or progress through a certain level. All this is to tell the player important information that they could get at a glance.

But we have visualisations in aspects of our everyday life too. The weather forecasts using suns and rain icons could be said to be visualisations. The stockmarket charts that display the prices are also another one.

I feel like Google Glass is one way that HUDs can now be seen in our daily lives. The video on their site demonstrates a few ways that it can bring us real time information about stuff like weather and on screen gps.

Another way that visualisation has manifested is in the form of VJing, which is the act of remixing visual images, usually in sync to audio. Two VJs described themselves as content creators aiming to “blow peoples minds”. Their works typically use distortion of an image or video paired with audio to create new visual experiences that you can get lost in. They go on to talk about their VJing software and how it can work with the variables and waves created from a video file, allowing a range of effects to be achieved by syncing a certain element of a song to an aspect of the video.

I feel like VJ is currently only used as a creative or entertainment device to create things for enjoyment. However it also shows a new way of manipulating video data. There are new software and new tools being developed to work with and manipulate video in new ways which could open the doors to new methods of data visualisation. I feel like it’s certainly opening the door to a new area of visual experience, but it’s too early to see how far it can go.

Another example would be the work of AntiVJ who created Paleodictyon, a work that is featured on the roof of a curved building. I think this shows not only the ability to create a new experience out of something stable, but also shows the visual capabilities that we now possess.

We can go beyond models of the real and concrete into something that is more abstract and programmable. This visual technology could be used in areas such as criminology (by looking at crime-heavy areas and if they correlate with any circumstances or changes) or economics (how/if the jobs are changing from new influences). Visualisation can help us draw links between things that were not obvious to us beforehand as they’re presenting data in a new light.

 

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